WITH just two games left to play in Germany’s top-flight, we asked European football expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) to share his best Bundesliga bets this weekend.
Mainz v Koln | Saturday 14.30
It’s the tightest relegation battle in Bundesliga history. Just four points separate rock bottom Stuttgart and Werder Bremen in 13th with two rounds of fixtures to play. All six sides are fighting for their top tier lives.
Koln secured their safety last weekend with Peter Stöger’s men running riot against a dreadful Schalke side. The 2-0 victory didn’t do the Billy Goats’ dominance justice but the three points marked a marvellous achievement from Koln who only won promotion back to the top-flight last season.
This weekend Stöger takes his determined team to Mainz, looking to build on an impressive return of results since mid-December. The Rhine-sided side have W5-D9-L4 to keep their heads well above water and it’s that knack of avoiding defeat that I’m keen to exploit this weekend.
Hosts Mainz appear to have downed tools since confirming their Bundesliga status and the O-Fivers were totally overrun by Stuttgart in a 2-0 defeat last Sunday. Martin Schmidt is already turning his attention to the 2015/16 campaign and that should give Koln plenty of hope for Saturday’s encounter.
Mainz have now W2-D2-L3 in their last seven outings and their Coface Arena record leaves a lot to be desired. The Karnevalsverein have W5-D6-L5 in front of their home supporters and I’m confident Koln can come away with at least a point. With that in mind, the 15/14 on Koln +0.25 holds the most appeal with BetVictor.
With this selection, we’ll win if Koln are victorious on Saturday. But if the match ends in a draw, half of our stake is returned and the other half is deemed a winner. The only way in which we’ll end up empty-handed is if Mainz do the business.
Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund | Saturday 14.30
Dortmund bagged their third win from an unbeaten run of four since news of Jurgen Klopp’s departure broke. The BVB boss joked post-match that he should have announced his departure at the start of the season had he known it would have had such a positive effect on the side. Hertha Berlin were squashed with relative ease last weekend and now the prospect of European qualification is a realistic target.
But the Black and Yellows could be brought back down to earth this weekend when they travel to Wolfsburg. In a dress rehearsal for the DFB Pokal final, the Wolves will look to cement their place as Germany’s second best team with a win and look handy 33/20 (Sportingbet) shots to pocket the three points with William Hill.
Dieter Hecking’s hosts have been almost unstoppable on home soil this season, returning league-high W12-D4-L0 figures from their Volkswagen Arena duels. In six games entertaining top-half teams, Wolfsburg have collected 16 points from a possible 18 and beaten Bayern Munich, Gladbach and Leverkusen – their fellow top-four clubs.
It’s nothing new. Under Hecking’s stewardship the Wolves have lost just five of their 42 fixtures on home soil and with second spot still unsecured, I’m happy backing the hosts to win against a Dortmund side that’s won just four fixtures on the road and been beaten in exactly half of their 16 away days.
There’s no denying Dortmund’s form has picked up in the past three months – they’ve W8-D3-L2 since early February in league action but five of those seven three-pointers came in front of their home supporters whilst their three away victories came at teams currently occupying the bottom four.
Star forward Marco Reus is expected to miss out again this weekend and it's worth noting that Dortmund have picked up just one point from their seven away games this season when he’s been absent. They scored just four goals in those games and three of their six defeats were ‘to nil'.
Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim | Saturday 14.30
Leverkusen endured a miserable February. Having come out on the wrong side of a crazy 5-4 against Wolfsburg at the BayArena on Valentine’s Day, Roger Schmidt’s side saw Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz notch a dramatic late equaliser in their next outing. It left Die Werkself with just two Bundesliga wins from nine and plenty of soul searching.
A campaign that began with so much promise was in danger of turning against Schmidt. But after hours of work on the training paddocks and plenty of clear the air meetings, Leverkusen emerged as the relentless animal we’ve become accustomed to in recent years. And with Schmidt’s stamp firmly imprinted yet again.
Bayer play an aggressive high-pressing style which is matched by their fluent anf fast-paced attack. Their 1-0 win over Freiburg post-Augsburg has sparked a run of W8-D1-L1 from their most recent 10 league fixtures with seven clean sheets kept across those 10 outings. Last weekend’s 3-0 loss at Gladbach masked Bayer’s superiority for the bulk of that match and I’d be surprised if the result knocked them off their stride.
Karim Bellarabi returns from suspension for Die Werself and I’d expect the hosts to add to their recent run of five consecutive wins (all ‘to nil’) when Hoffenheim arrive on Saturday. Since the start of last season, Leverkusen have W19-D9-L5 of their 33 home Bundesliga games, scoring at least twice in 21/33 (64%).
Hoffenheim won at struggling Hannover in late April but a point at home to Dortmund and last week’s 3-1 loss at out-of-form Frankfurt has hit their Europa League qualification hopes hard. Head coach Markus Gisdol said in the build-up to that match that “Europe is not our goal but our dream” but those thoughts will be extinguished on Saturday.
Hoffe have D1-L8 when visiting top-11 teams this term and since the beginning of 2013/14 the visitors have W7-D10-L16 when playing away. To make matters worse, 11 of those 16 losses have come by a margin of two goals or more including all five trips to the top-six this term and they're also without Brazilian international striker Roberto Firmino.
But I’m going to boost the home win by adding in Over 2.5 Goals – it’s the double is 5/6 with Boylesports and holds plenty of appeal when viewing the trends of both teams. Since the start of last season, Leverkusen have seen three goals or more feature in 20/33 (61%) of their home ties whilst Hoffenheim have rewarded Overs backers in 22/33 (67%) on the road, including in seven of their last nine.
Mainz v Koln – Koln +0.25 Asian Handicap (15/14 BetVictor
Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund – Wolfsburg to win (33/20 Sportingbet)
Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim – Bayer Leverkusen win and Over 2.5 Goals (5/6 Boylesports)
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